Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Clifford C. Furnas: Olympic Athlete, Prominent Academic, and Famous Mooresvillian

Clifford C. Furnas (1900-1969) graduated from Mooresville High School in 1918. He earned his bachelor degree from Purdue University (1922), at which he excelled in track and field. He secured a position on the U.S. Olympic team and competed in the 5,000 meters event at the 1920 Olympic Games in Belgium.  He earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan (1926). From 1926-31 he worked as a physical chemist with the U.S. Bureau of Mines in Minneapolis.  Thereafter, he became a professor of chemical engineering at Yale University.

Clifford C. Furnas (1900-1969)

Clifford C. Furnas as a Mooresville High School junior
(Class Photo from the ’17 Packet [MHS yearbook, 1917)
(Click Image Above to Enlarge)

In 1941, at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, Furnas caused a sensation when he recommended the development of solar power as an alternative energy resource to fossil fuels.  During World War II, he directed the Curtiss-Wright airplane division.  In 1954 Furnas became chancellor of the University of Buffalo.  He served as an assistant secretary of defense in the Eisenhower administration (1955-57).  In 1962, he guided the University of Buffalo’s transition into the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY-Buffalo), serving as its first president until his retirement in 1966.  He published many noteworthy scholarly books and articles throughout his distinguished academic and professional career.
Checkout a book describing his lifetime achievements from our Indiana Room collections. Visit our Famous Mooresvillians web page to learn more about famous folks from around these parts.

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